Moving to A Higher Plane: An Open Letter to the Racial Realist

By Maxjulian

June 9, 2006

Category: Uncategorized

20 Comments »

Dear RR,

I apologize for disparaging you on my blog. As you know, I felt and a part of me is struggling with continuing to feel justified due to the things you said about me on yours. But I’m at least willing to try to be sorry.

Onward…

Sadly, as black people, we have been placed at odds, “Willie Lynched,”divided and conquered for 400 years and counting. The methods used have varied: light skin versus dark skin, house nigger versus field nigger, bougie versus blue collar, nationalist versus integrationist, black talking versus white talking, black oriented versus white oriented, straight versus gay – and on and on.

If we as black people continue to merely step into the shoes produced for us in the global white racist sweatshop, without careful reflection (or checking the factory or the fit), then we will continue to play the game the white man wants us to play. We will continue to play Pinnochio to HIS Gepetto.

I know that there is comfort derived from hate, contempt, condemnation, “I’m blacker than thou” and “us versus them” attitudes. Its all about self-control, trying to manage that tender place within us that the world constantly stomps on. I know; I’ve been there/will continue on some level to be there; I’ve received the cheap high that a snort or two from that bottle brings. But its a short-term upper with a low-bottom; the price is a hangover rooted in fear, cowardice and a misplaced bitterness. I only think I’m projecting it outward, but in reality, its chewing my insides up, even as I feel taller/better/blacker than my ‘inferiors.’

I reacted to your post about me and lashed out and used a nasty term. That was wrong and I apologize. I’m human and I often react to the surface pin prick before looking at the deeper meaning of things. Part of that deeper meaning is that we are all dislocated people living in the black diaspora, under the conditions of racism/white supremacy, half-breeds, quadroons, octaroons, niggas.

This disease of R/WS is a chameleon – it has common features and yet it has local characteristics born of the soil it was planted on. Brazillian racism is different from that which formed in the US; Haiti suffered indignities that perhaps African people in Grenada or Barbados, London or Liverpool did not. We cannot superimpose our local experience onto others living far different lives and confronting markedly different conditions.

What must it be like to be black AND gay and how do racism and homophobia converge and diverge? I don’t really know, but its worth knowing, isn’t it?

Another feature of the disease of racism/white supremacy is the creation of hard and fast categories for people to facilitate the racist agenda. It was important to know who a nigga was back in the day because nigga meant ‘property’ and ‘product.’ (It still means that, but in a much more sophisticated way) Who was and wasn’t a nigga determined whether you slept in the bowels of the slaveship, or up on the deck. The white man kept it crudely simple in order to maximize profit.

I submit that we can’t afford, as Audre Lord has said, “to use the Master’s tools to dismantle his house.”

We have to be smarter, wiser, more deliberate, more intentional, as our multiplicity of colors, experiences, geographic locations and intersections are incredibly complex. The fact that the white man’s sperm flows through so many of us in so many different proportions, the fact that we are no longer truly African but a new race of people – means that much more thought and care is necessary in attempting to comprehend, strategize and enact solutions to our conditions.

We don’t know who we are. By that I mean, we have yet to satisfactorily define who we are as a people (in the 21st Century), through crafting a definition that incorporates ALL of us. I have asked you to put forth a definition of blackness or pro-blackness. Silence. Its not enough to assert, or imply that, “those who know don’t (or won’t) say.” That is truly treating blackness as an exclusive clique that only the “in-crowd” knows about or can enter. Its also the fruit of that “blue-blooded” exclusionary mentality initially found on the plantation, among the high-yella-handkerchief-heads who did the “One UP/one down Watusi” with their black brothers and sisters.

A transparent discussion – within and among our people – of who and what we are, the intersections of various other “Isms and Schizms,” how do we create the ‘beloved black community,’ (and all the other shit we need to deal with) is a requirement for elevating this conversation and perhaps pointing us toward liberation.

We can delete unpleasant posts or threads from our blogs; however, the mind and spirit do not delete so easily. As human beings we must confront our demons or they will be our masters. Running from the racist-virus injected into our bloodstream contributes to our horrific mortality in every country on the Planet. We must heal ourselves as individuals, availing ourselves of all of the services dedicated to self-discovery and healing and then we must heal our communities and the planet. We are the only ones who can, and I believe the focused, concentrated brilliance of black people on liberation will mean liberation for all.

So, here is my olive branch to the Racial Realist and anyone who’ve I’ve ripped or slandered. Let’s get together and talk it out.

20 Responses to “Moving to A Higher Plane: An Open Letter to the Racial Realist”

  1. this is v. kind to rr, i hope she can hear it.

    her thing today is an article by white ut austin professor, about secret fears of white people. it is pretty dated, i mean, is it new info … ??? i don’t think so … and it is v. v. focused on white guys and their struggle to be less racist … i dunno, maybe the article is news to some people, if so it may do some good, but i found it sanctimonious, self-centered, and dull…

  2. Uh..it’s news to white people. White folks got negative knowledge about race. I think they got anti knowledge.

  3. I’m not worried whether she gets it or not; its really about will WE get it.

    On the question of white people and what they know – I used to think they were cluesless. Now I think the cluelessness, the guilt are actually masterful technique, designed to maintain the status quo. You can’t be dumb to create and maintain this system. And I’ve been recently surprised by white folks who appeared clueless who understood or reacted to stuff that no unaware person would. I think their racist thought is highly compartmentalized. The CIA calls it “plausible deniability.”

  4. “Now I think the cluelessness, the guilt are actually masterful technique, designed to maintain the status quo.”

    Yes.

  5. you are bold. i tried to be nice to her, but she started to attack people online by calling them idiots, pathetic, and a number of other names. to me, she is not worth an apology.

    but you max, are indeed, the bigger person.

  6. It is ironic that I discovered this site through RR. I had taken her side against Nubian in one debate, although not quite as strongly as RR wanted me to do, and not for exactly her same reasons. And then I liked the site. I don’t think this means the site is oriented towards white women (although I am one).

    Olive branch to Nubian: where RR and I resonate together is a mistrust of the way some white liberals deploy and interpret the interest in hybridity and intersectionality–hot buzz words in feminist studies, postcolonial studies, and so on. Where we seem to disagree is on whether there is just one Black, and just one white position…from what I can tell right now, at bottom she thinks that is the case, but I don’t. None of this got worked out very clearly in that debate. I’m sorry.

  7. Nubian: Its like the Dead Prez song, “Its bigger than HipHop/HipHop/HipHop…” Its so much bigger than us; I think RR loves the power of her absolutist positions; its a wonderful form of armor because you are ALWAYS right. You never have to define anything, its simply “because I said so.” But where is the demonstration of real love?

  8. prof zero. it wasn’t even a debate. i had written many things to you, but rr deleted them before anyone else saw them. so, it was a one-sided diatribe, which made me into a whiney, “white oriented” (ridiculous term btw), sell-out black person. and it is sad that if we want to combat racism, you and rr are most interested in pointing out the weakness of other blacks, and you being a white person and doing the same, is even more upsetting. is that not racism?

  9. Say Word?!What the RR’s and Shannon’s forget is that while they are heaping scorn (which on a personal level don’t mean shit to me) on people as black as they are, they fail to recognize the manifestation of “self-hate” evidenced by their idiotic witch hunt. Black people ARE and have dated every color in the spectrum. It is the white man who took to creating rigid, immovable categories and those who stepped out of line were castigated, chastised and often killed. So who is the real “white oriented black person?” It is RR and Shannon, who mimic the white racist, who judge on the thinnest evidence, who verbally excommunicate those who represent the best in our race. Let me break it down into language they can understand: REAL black people are loving, open, intelligent, wise, courageous, flexible, adaptable, humble, strong, broadminded human beings. These two black women represent the worst in white people: shallow, compartmentalized, fearful, tyrannical, vindictive, hateful. Its a case of the “toilet calling the sink – white.”

  10. “you and rr are most interested in pointing out the weakness of other blacks” (Nubian)

    Hey Nubian, glad to get the chance to talk to you. Most interested in pointing out the weaknesses of other blacks, RR may be (I think she is more like confused and looking for a home), but I’m not.

    Where you and I originally differed (if I ‘heard’ you right) in that thread was about gender vs. race–my view or at least my impression right now is that racism is stronger than sexism.

    That was and is just an idea I’m interested in feedback on. Everyone has been talking about ‘intersectionality’ for years, and I’ve got some doubts about the ways that idea gets deployed. That thread got really weird, really fast, in part because the commentators were coming from such different places, and we didn’t see all of the thread.

    The big chip I have on my shoulder is about white liberal academic feminists of a type which began appearing (in my experience) sometime in the eighties, who pay sanctimonious lip service to race, nationality, culture, etc., but act very differently. That is a whole other topic, and this comment is already too long. But I reacted to you, or at you, from that, and it was misplaced.

    I’m sure I am racist in ways, and that I have even more blind spots. But the way I stereotyped you wasn’t as ‘the wrong type of Black person’. It was as a young graduate student coming to grips with ‘theory’ and rushing to judgment too soon. I then rushed to judgment too quickly myself. I had the impression you were looking to ‘out’ racists, sexists, and homophobics, just as RR was looking to ‘out’ Black people
    who weren’t acting ‘right’. I’m getting old, maybe, and becoming more interested in what people actually get done, than what they secretly think (except insofar as that motivates action).

    So I came down too hard. However, be assured that with white people (or others) who actually DO racist and/or sexist things in real life, I am more severe, but more justified. And more often than not, effective.

  11. Prof. Z: Just to dip into this with one thing. The idea that racism is stronger than sexism may be true. But, like certain chemical agents that alone may be potent and harmful, when combined, they may create an entirely different/perhaps more potent, toxic substance.

    Plus, how do you measure which one is more harmful in isolation? Black men get it one way, while black women receive it another. How do black,gay, women receive racism/sexism/homophobia in combination? What ruler do we use for that?

  12. Hi MJ, and yes, I know it is a real conundrum. The idea that the combination isn’t just an interweaving, but a new substance, is interesting.

    Where I was coming from on it in that earlier conversation was my perception that in my own case, white privilege has opened more doors than than gender discrimination has closed. The general issue I have is with some of women’s studies scholars who by discussing ‘intersectionality’, evade race.

    But I don’t think there is a way to measure which one is more harmful in isolation.

    I also wonder how much meaning term ‘white oriented’ has. I could name some businesses which answer that description. And maybe some ‘color blind’ ideologies. I’m less sure whether it can be usefully applied to people. I wonder what the definition would be. Liking ‘white’ music? Blindness to, or disregard of the realities of the nonwhite condition(s)?

  13. PZ: The term “white-oriented” is nonsensical on a number of different levels. Any person of African descent who lives in what’s called the diaspora is “white oriented”. If we live anywhere other than Africa, we are “white-oriented”. That’s the major consequence of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Unless you’re garbed in animals skins and other traditional clothing – you’re white oriented. If you’re speaking with a British or French or Portuguese or Spanish accent – and you’re of African descent – you’re white oriented. Our lives were turned upside down. Its nonsense for black people to beat other black people over the head with that stick as we are ALL white oriented; the question is: what is our consciousness and are we going to accept each other as black people or people of African descent or not?

  14. Good point/way of framing it! I am going to quote you on this the next time this issue comes up in real life (as it does, at least weekly if not more, around here).

  15. P.S. for what it’s worth–I hear the term used a lot, but more about institutions and ideas than about people. I understand it in context, and it usually does point to something real, such as exclusionary practices, or a general attitude, perhaps better expressed as “mainstream, with blinders on”. But it is a blanket term, and it’s vague; it covers too much and distorts quite a bit.

  16. I’m reminded of the term “control by chaos.” You’ve got folks putting out vague hoops for other people to “jump” through intellectually, behaviorally. But there’s no rhyme or reason, no nuance, no “handles” on their assertions; its just a big blanket of confusion that warms their tender hearts while subtracting any depth from a real discourse. They’re in charge, their position impervious to change or truth.

  17. i personally have never seen intersectionality used as a way to avoid talking about race–i *have* seen intersectionality attacked ad infinitum as a way to avoid talking about race or as a way to ignore those troublesome queer folks who won’t go away. reading the comments, it made me remember that what I found interesting and ironic about the conversation at RR was that it was black feminists who defined intersectionality, and yet, RR was defining intersectionality as a “white” thang.

  18. I think the “former” drama is really intersting. I would love to hear RR reply to this.

    RR whrer you iz?

  19. “i *have* seen intersectionality attacked ad infinitum as a way to avoid talking about race or as a way to ignore those troublesome queer folks who won’t go away.”

    That is interesting, BFP–and this coming from people other than old fashioned macho nationalists?

    “RR was defining intersectionality as a ‘white’ thang”

    Yes–an unusual perception, but an intuition I have also, not about the idea (or fact) itself but about the way
    it often gets deployed by white progressives. On this I could say muchiiisimo maaas, but blog comments should be brief. To say just one thing, a Nigerian colleague made this comment: with all the interest there is now in different forms of hybridity, why do people not talk more about hybridities which do not include whiteness? The answer, for the U.S., is pretty clear: whiteness is hard to avoid. But for much of the world, even the colonized and formerly colonized world, the question is interesting.

    Bygbaby, I think RR is digesting all this stuff, and will return eventually.

  20. Prof Z: She’s not coming back HERE! My intuition tells me she will never come back here to discuss herself!! Neva!

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